Noise-cancelling: The QC20 is signifcantly better than QC15. QC20 will make you gasp the first time when you turn on its noise-cancelling circuit. I can only describe the effect as eerily silent, which seems impossible with an earphone that only lies against the opening of your ear, but
doesn't go into the canal or encircle your ears like headphones. In addition to achieving great noise-cancelling in an "ear bud" type design, Bose has also made real strides is quieting the sounds of speech, which--along with crying babies--have always largely evaded the capabilities of noise-cancelling systems. The QC20 is by no means perfect in silencing speech (or crying babies) but it's a clear step forward.
Sound Quality: The sound of the QC20 is incrementally better than the QC15, but still lags behind the better in-ear 'phones like my Ety 4PT and Shure ES530. The QC20 sound a bit veiled by comparison, and while the bass is certainly there, its quality and tightness just isn't as good. But let's put this in context: I"m talking about A/A+ sound for the Ety and Shure vs. B/B+ sound for the QC20. Plus, there are the drawbacks to the in-ear canal earphones: they silence outside sounds almost completely, and there's the incovenience of having to remove an earphone from the canal everytime you want to hear what someone is saying to you. The QC20 has an "aware" mode that allows in outside sound at the touch of a button. Also, with the Ety 4PT, I hear the microphonic thumping sound of the cable hitting my body when I walk--not as bad as earlier generations of the Ety cable, but still there. Finally, neither of these in-ear 'phones are comfortable for long-term wear, such as a
Comfort: The QC20 ear tips rest so comfortably against your ear openings that you simply forget you're wearing them at all. Most importantly, the Bose StayHear design of the tips keeps them in place.The QC20s come with medium tips installed, but also include small and large sizes in the box.
Size/Weight: The earphones store in a soft pouch that measures just 2.75 x 5 inches and they weigh next to nothing. As nice as the storage case is for the QC15, it just looks huge by comparison. I was concerned that the "battery/control bar" at the plug end of the QC20 might have size and weight that would make it clunky in use, but it's small, very thin, and almost as feather-weight as just the cable itself. The bar measures just 1"W x 3.5"L x 1/4"D. Weight is only 3/4 of an ounce, including the end cable and plug. That end cable is just long enough to allow for easy folding of the bar against the back of your phone or music player and easy insertion into your pocket.
Convenience: Minimal size/weight make the QC20 a "take everywhere" earphone. Includes a super lightweight lithium battery that runs for 16 hours on just a 2-hour charge from USB. (Bose includes the required USB to micro-USB charging cable.) The earphones will continue to function with a dead battery, but without noise-cancelling and with somewhat degraded sound quality. The integrated microphone makes it a perfect headset for use with iPhone and other cellular phones. (Note that you must order the QC20i for use with Apple products.) The microphone also includes an "Aware Mode" switch that allows in some outside noise, like traffic sounds--convenient AND an essential safety feature if wearing these in a city environment.
cross-country flight. Again, Your Ears May Vary, but I have to remove them after a couple of hours.
- They are light and very portable. The battery doesn't really bother much (but it has a few caveats).
- Moderately easy to fit and less tiring than the full in-ear-canal.
- Easy to sleep with these on a plane while tilting your head. Still some vibrations can be heard, but with the others is really hard for obvious reasons.
- The USB charging is nice (Boeing 767-400 have USBs on every seat so you can watch the TV while not draining your battery).
- The new "Aware Mode" is also a nice thing, but on a plane it will not necessarily be loud enough to hear a person talking to you. You have to turn it on-off when you want to use it, because when that is on, the cancelled noise is nowhere near as good as when it's off.
- The sound is good, but these are not top of the end headphones. The idea is for sound to be acceptable in noisy environments. It's certainly not the best sound you can get, but it will be probably the best isolation in certain environments. And the combination of both is extremely decent.
- You can use them even when turned off as regular headphones.
- The cable is nice and doesn't create the annoying sound (known to Etymotics and such) when hit by objects or your own body.
- With the 3 sizes (S-M-L) ear tips, you might not find an appropriate one for your ear size.
- The battery is not heavy, but heavy enough to cause disconnects if it hangs from a loose plug.
- The position of the battery in the "cable" is a win-loss situation. Sometimes you feel like it's great and sometimes you wished it where somewhere else.
- The Amount of cable after the battery could use a few more inches so you have to basically "stick" the battery with your phone and every time you hold your phone, you have to hold the battery or it bother you all the time.
- The Android/Windows version only comes with 1 button (plus the button to activate aware mode). The button serves as a play/pause on any app that is registered to operate with media buttons (most should anyway). But it has no volume controls.
- Since the buttons are not interchangeable, you're stuck with what you got.
- The tips (rubber?) are very weird and fit ok, but they are "fragile"
- For obvious reasons, you can't detach the cables and use the noise cancel feature alone.
Bose QuietComfort 20 Specifications:
QC®20 headphones (including cable and StayHear®+ tips)
- Length: 52 in (132 cm)
- Weight: 1.55 oz (44 g)
- Height: 1.25 in (3.2 cm)
- Width: 1 in (2.5 cm)
- Depth: 0.5 in (1.3 cm)
- Length: 12 in (30.5 cm)
- Height: 1 in (2.5 cm)
- Width: 0.25 in (0.3 cm)
- Depth: 0.5 in (1.8 cm)
- Height: 3.5 in (8.9 cm)
- Width: 1.25 in (3.2 cm)
- Depth: 0.375 in (0.95 cm)
- Height: 0.5 in (1.8 cm)
- Width: 2.75 in (7 cm)
- Depth: 1.25 in (3.2 cm)
If you're looking for the best noise-cancelling on the market today, bar none, combined with very good sound, the ultimate in comfort and convenience, all in a very small, lightweight package, the QC20 is for you.